It’s safe to say that 2020 took a heavy toll on the business world. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK back in March, we saw the normalisation of remote working and the radical switch to online operations. Furthermore, during such desperate times, we saw companies having to restructure teams and invest in new ways of targeting customer acquisition just to stay afloat.
While we may be going into the New Year with a continued degree of uncertainty, there are still some key business trends we can look out for in 2021. Have a read of these below:
The careful transition back into “normal working”
Let’s start with what both business owners and employees are most likely dreaming of these days – the slow but steady transition back into the office. With the triumphant news of the vaccine, this dream is starting to look like a reality.
However, it’s important to note that going back to conventional office working will not be an easy process and there won’t be a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Rather, each business must take a step-by-step approach to ensure a smooth and safe transition for employees. This means that concerns will need to be addressed, travelling to work plans will need to be discussed, and numbers in the office will need to be regulated.
The impact of Brexit
The next order of business is the ‘B’ word – Brexit. As the UK has now officially left the EU, one may be wondering how exactly this departure is going to affect business operations in 2021.
An evident procedure that is going to be affected is the import and export of goods to and from EU countries. As of this year, businesses moving goods between the UK and EU countries will require an EORI number to trade. Furthermore, imported goods will need to be declared when they enter the UK and will need to be accompanied by an entry summary declaration. Other areas of business that will be affected include trademarks and patents, compliance with environmental industrial standards, and personal data transferred from the UK and the EU.
Changes to Making Tax Digital
Making Tax Digital is a recent Government initiative that seeks to improve the way businesses and individuals keep on top of their tax affairs. Ever since the initiative was introduced in 2019, there have been key changes to it year on year.
Currently, only VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) have to adhere to Making Tax Digital regulations. However, from April 2021, all VAT registered traders will have to use Making Tax Digital software to file VAT returns for VAT periods beginning on or after 1 April 2022. These businesses are also required to keep the VAT record in digital form. As Making Tax Digital is a fairly new concept, you can get help from accountants for online businesses to assist you with the transition.
When we look back on the news of 2020, one positive story that came to light was the beneficial impact that remote working had on our environment. Ever since companies closed their office doors, there has been a mass reduction in carbon and water footprints. This outcome has urged businesses to rethink their general operations, and many have started to question whether or not staff actually need to be in five days a week. And so, while “normal working” may return in 2021, companies may not be so quick to resume business as usual due to this trend of sustainability.
Data-driven business strategies
Thanks to tools such as Google Analytics, we’ve really been able to dive deep into understanding audience behaviour throughout the years. What’s more, these analytics have helped businesses develop more effective consumer-focused strategies due to the vast amounts of data available. And so, there is no surprise that 2021 will see the continuation of these data-driven business campaigns.
On the subject of data, it is also worth noting that cyber-security will continue to be of paramount importance this year. This means that businesses must do all they can to ensure that sensitive company data is protected and stored in the right way.
When times are tough for the business world, your customers can make life a little bit easier. Throughout last year, we saw businesses relying heavily on social media to attract customer acquisition and boost digital presence. In 2021, we will see the continuation of such social media strategies, from businesses hosting giveaways to uploading behind-the-scenes footage. We may also see more companies turning to external agencies to take care of the marketing side of things, while CEOs focus more explicitly on re-building their business after the pandemic.
Overall, the bottom line is that 2021 will come with its fair share of challenges for businesses. However, there are still going to be many opportunities for growth. Taking into account the trends mentioned, the best thing for companies to do this year is be prepared. This is through having a solid business resiliency plan in place and maintaining a strong line of internal and external communication.